Protecting Networks with Fiber Monitoring

Nearly as long as fiber networks have existed, so has fiber monitoring.

analysts. For businesses, fiber lines are critical to keep operations moving and profits flowing. Today’s businesses demand fiber because it’s faster, scalable, more secure, and cost effective. Knowing that speed is important, businesses are looking for fiber services that have solid connectivity and networks that are closer to the edge for increased speed, which results in increased productivity and workplace efficiency. 

Since the onset of the pandemic, fiber networks have made possible a massive switch in our ways of working, and they’ll also be expected to power the technology of tomorrow. According to the latest estimates, the fiber optic market is expected to continue growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 10.3 percent through 2027 thanks in large part to the role fiber plays in enabling video streaming, gaming activities, and overall higher bandwidth demand due to a larger number of Internet users and the need to enable 5G. More than 83 percent of those surveyed in a 5G Operator Survey by the Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) say that fiber is “very important” to the future of 5G. Because fiber is the preferred backhaul option for 5G networks to connect to their base stations and towers, realizing use cases such as autonomous vehicles (AV) and smart cities demands the underpinning of fiber networks to enable lightning-fast technologies.

While the fiber service is critical, the technology is simple: light pulses sent through extremely thin glass fibers transport the data, converting each pulse into helpful information. Like sound, the performance of the fiber is tracked in decibels (dB), which indicates the power of the pulses as they travel through the cables. A dB loss test can use a power meter and light source to measure how much of the light passes through a cable, thereby indicating the performance of the data running through the cable. Since dB loss occurs through contamination such as dirt, moisture, and dust entering the cable, it’s imperative the fiber cables stay intact and are monitored underground.

To keep fiber operating optimally, today’s operators are eyeing new ways to monitor cables for issues such as dB loss, outside digging events, and natural disasters, which can result in massive monetary and reputational issues for critical infrastructure operators. It’s the best way to make sure these assets stay secure underground and stay online consistently for customers. Nearly as long as fiber networks have existed, so has fiber monitoring.

The history of fiber sensing

The very first fiber optic sensor received a patent in the 1960s and just 10 years later, fiber optic sensors were invented, offering measurements that provided reliable data on fiber cables. Fast forward to today and fiber optic sensing technology is used in a variety of industries, including the oil and gas industries, to provide valuable data and sound alarms when there are issues such as leak detection. When we talk about network evolution, we also should talk about the evolution of network monitoring and sensing that includes fiber optic sensor technologies such as Optical Time-Domain Reflectometers (OTDR)s, Fiber-Optic Gyroscopes (FOG)s, and IoTs.

Fiber optic sensors (FOS) can gauge the stress of a fiber optic structure to alert of issues that can result in data speed deficiencies. The fiber optic technologies used to help with these critical alerts include:

  • OTDR, which utilizes a measurement of “time of flight” to both detect and locate breaks in optical fiber
  • FOGs, which act as a gyroscope that can utilize light to calculate motion, which in turn can measure the speed of a fiber optic cable
  • (IoT), which are a collective network of devices that use real-time collection and the exchange of data to monitor networks at specific locations

Today, distributed acoustic sensing, vibration ranging, and detection technology are some of the newest technologies that deliver sensing capabilities through the fiber trands themselves. Because of their wide reach, fiber optic infrastructure can be


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